Proof of the contribution military museums make to public and wider civil/military relations comes from the SA Naval Museum which reported a high visitor tally for the year-end holiday season.
Museum Officer in Charge, Commander Leon Steyn, is on record as saying the turnout of holiday visitors was “most satisfactory – almost back to pre-COVID-19 numbers”.
All told, 2 758 visitors were counted between 11 December and 14 January with Saturday, 30 December the busiest at 168 visitors.
Posted visitor comments included “some great displays at the Naval Museum – probably one of the best museums in Cape Town”; “the better experience in Simon’s Town”; “It’s a great museum”; “definitely worth visiting” and “If you want a day filled with so much history this is the place to be”. Current tourist ratings have the Naval Museum as “the second-best thing to do in Simon’s Town” and a place in Cape Town’s Top Ten museums.
Steyn knows full well Simon’s Town is a visitor and tourist magnet in the greater Cape Town and acknowledges the Naval Museum benefits from the influx of people.
Commenting on the visitor numbers, Steyn said the “invasion” of holidaymakers to a museum “starved of visitors and income” was a final return to normal. He was unstinting in his praise of museum staff, thanking them for “dedication and steadfast presence” over the holiday period when it was business as usual.
Last year the Naval Museum marked its 30th anniversary which saw its first exhibits go on display in the former Royal Navy mast house on Naval Base (NB) Simon’s Town.
Apart from the maritime service, the SANDF has the SA Air Force (SAAF) Museum, headquartered at the Mobile Deployment Wing, previously Air Force Base (AFB) Swartkop, with satellites at Air Force Station (AFS) Gqeberha and AFB Ysterplaat as well as the Armour Museum, in Tempe, Bloemfontein, managed by the SA Army Armour Formation.